The Institute of Paper Conservation (IPC), prior to its merger with five other conservation bodies to form The Institute of Conservation (ICON), was the main professional body for book and paper conservators from 1976 to 2005. IPC had a large membership, an internationally respected peer reviewed journal (The Paper Conservator), and a small but important reference library (the Chantry Library) run by Judith Chantry, a graduate of the first Camberwell paper conservation course (1969) and the Ashmolean Museum’s first paper conservator.
IPC held numerous international conferences and several seminal ones, including the tenth anniversary Oxford conference (‘New Directions in Paper Conservation’, 1987) and the twenty-first anniversary London conference (1997). Conference preprints were produced for the Oxford conference and the papers were published in three successive issues of The Paper Conservator (vols. 10-12, 1986-1988). Conference postprints of the London conference were produced in 1998 by IPC.
Both conferences were taped and the cassette tapes have been preserved in the Chantry Library. The tapes complement the published conference proceedings, in the unique voices of influential book and paper conservators, many of whom have retired or are sadly deceased.
Tape carrier and playback-technology obsolescence mean that this valuable resource is in danger of disappearing. Digitisation to a sustainable file-based environment will preserve this audio content for the future. The Chantry Library and OCC are currently exploring ways to make this digitisation possible. If we are able to put funding in place for this project we intend to digitise and make the recordings available. The initial step of digital transfer will archive information that evidences the development and legacy of paper conservation in the UK – information that is not being collected elsewhere.
Watch this space for further news about this exciting project.